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Author: Gavin Haynes

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What are all these GDPR emails filling up your inbox?



Websites are desperately trying to maintain their links to users before the 24 May deadline, when consumers rather than companies will be in charge of personal data

‘Hey there Field Left Blank. So listen, budski, my man, my main man … I know we’ve been sending you spammy emails about cheap holiday deals five days a week. For the last five years. Yeah, maybe we took a few liberties with that. Mistakes were made. IDK. But I’m here, today, to tell you we value you as a customer, Field Left Blank. So …. um, was wondering, would you be interested in maybe opting in? Please. Please?”

So goes every third email in your inbox this week, as a change in the law heads towards its final 24 May deadline, with even such well-established email beggars as the Guardian getting in on the act. But what exactly is GDPR?

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Bento the Keyboard Cat, internet sensation and YouTube star, dies



The beloved feline star of the popular meme has died age nine. But does this really mean the end?

Tonight he’s jamming with Kurt and Jimi. Keyboard Cat, the internet meme that bookended a thousand pratfalls, is dead.

In April 2009, thanks in part to a single tweet by Ashton Kutcher, videos of a cat “playing” a junky little Casio riff became the de rigeur way to “play out” any footage of, say, a man falling down an escalator in a wheelchair, a singing woman collapsing a table, or just a mortar round misfiring.

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Ambrosia: the startup harvesting the blood of the young



The notion has been parodied on TV, but a real company is offering transfusions of teenager’s plasma to reinvigorate older people. At $8,000, it’s a bit of a bloodsucker

What we now call “intergenerational fairness” has suffered a lot lately, and it’s not about to be improved by the news that the Baby Boomers are sucking the blood of the young. Although, in fairness, they are only after the plasma.

In Monterey, California, a new startup has emerged, offering transfusions of human plasma: 1.5 litres a time, pumped in across two days, harvested uniquely from young adults.

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Ambrosia: the startup harvesting the blood of the young



The notion has been parodied on TV, but a real company is offering transfusions of teenager’s plasma to reinvigorate older people. At $8,000, it’s a bit of a bloodsucker

What we now call “intergenerational fairness” has suffered a lot lately, and it’s not about to be improved by the news that the Baby Boomers are sucking the blood of the young. Although, in fairness, they are only after the plasma.

In Monterey, California, a new startup has emerged, offering transfusions of human plasma: 1.5 litres a time, pumped in across two days, harvested uniquely from young adults.

Continue reading…

Nice! Thanks! Love it! Gmail’s auto-reply is perfect for the lazy emailer



Google’s mail app now offers a range of AI-generated responses. Is modern life about to devolve into one long Turing test? No thanks!

Confusing times at Google. The company has announced it will stop automatically scanning users’ emails in order to provide targeted adverts. At almost the same moment, though, it has decided to launch an auto-reply system that scans one’s emails and generates possible responses from which you can choose.

The new functionality, added to the app store versions of Gmail, works by analysing a large, anonymised body of emails to generate possible responses. Machine-learning systems then rank these to pick the “best responses to the email at hand”.

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#gymfails – why do we like watching people hurt themselves doing exercise?



The burgeoning Instagram genre celebrates mishaps by Lycra bros clanking iron. But its popularity shines a light on our conflicted relationship with the gym

For most people, the most common #gymfail is merely the failure to turn up in the first place. For a precious few, however, it might be the sexually suggestive way they are misusing the rowing machine. Or how they’re lifted clean off the ground by putting 980kg on to the lats machine. Or that inevitable comedy staple, the pull-up bar malfunction.

These mishaps and petty vanities form grist to the mill of the #gymfails subgenre, in which strange, unseen humans with phones take videos of calamitous gym accidents. On Instagram, IG Gym Fails boasts 1 million followers. IG Gym Fails and its many competitors do a lively business in pushing the flip-side to Instagram’s body-beautiful culture. They are joined by a YouTube community where gym-fails compilations can easily hit millions of views.

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From Raya to Tinder Select: the world of elite dating apps



Rich, intelligent or just really good-looking? Why not join a dating app open only to a selected few?

Bad news for ugly, unsuccessful people: Tinder is no longer keeping up the pretence that they might one day enjoy a quirky romcom relationship with someone from a different league.

Already, a velvet curtain is being drawn around the world’s facial one-percenters with the launch of Tinder Select. The Select sub-platform is the world’s biggest dating app’s entry into the increasingly popular market for elitism.

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The Nokia 3310: it’s back, it’s indestructible and it’s got Snake



A homage to the retro handset is rumoured to be launching later this month. And it’s not the only basic mobile in Nokia’s arsenal

It was a cockroach of a phone. You could drop it from a plane. You could run over it. You could crush it in a hydraulic press, if that was the sort of thing you were into.

Now, the phone that became a meme about surviving the apocalypse is coming back from the dead, one last time.

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Kapow! Amazon’s Alexa has learned new words – and she’s more nerdy than ever



An update has added more geeky in-jokes and references to the e-commerce giant’s AI assistant, from ‘Cowabunga’ to ‘Great Scott!’

Alexa, the talking lady who sits inside the Amazon Echo waiting for you to say her name, is having a personality makeover. The talking AI’s latest update comes with a range of “speechcons” – little expressions or verbal tics.

Alexa will say 100 new words, including “bazinga” and “woohoo”. In a nod to nerd culture, she will range from “Kapow!” (Batman) to “Great Scott!” (Superman). She will even quote the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (“Cowabunga”) and The Godfather (“Bada bing!”) if she needs to give deeper vent to her feelings.

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Net ​nostalgia: the online museums preserving dolphin gifs and spinning Comic Sans



Archivist Jason Scott has made it his mission to record digital culture for future generations. But why are we so keen to relive the days of Geocities websites and 56k modems?

Jason Scott is a “guerilla internet archivist”. Someone’s got to be. If you’ve got some content embedded in a site that’s about to disappear, then he and his team of coders and data engineers go in there and “Ocean’s Eleven” the joint. In the name of digital archaeology, they migrate as much data as they can to a safe harbour even as the main site goes down. “We swoop in and, to the best of our ability, take a snapshot,” he says.

Scott is interested in conserving the stuff we have forgotten has value. Increasingly, our culture plays itself out on the internet, yet even now we have a tendency to view what we do on there as trivial. Or we make the mistake of assuming that digital means for ever. “The problem is, the internet’s systems have been designed as though everything goes on indefinitely,” he says. “There are no agreed-upon shutdown procedures. When users die, what do you do? Because their accounts live on, and suddenly Facebook is telling you your dead friend also likes Snickers bars. Often, you don’t even know who’s running a site. It’s as if you didn’t know who was in charge of your water supply; then one day, it just stopped …”

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